MONETA, Va. — Weights fell off across the board on Day Two of the Advance Auto Parts Blue Ridge Brawl on Smith Mountain Lake. A majority of the bigger fish that were locked on yesterday had been caught and the next wave hadn't moved up yet because of the colder nights.
Aaron Martens hammered the second-biggest bag of the day, 16 pounds, 11 ounces to jump into fourth place, but found that bigger fish were at a premium as empty beds were numerous.
"There were very few big ones still up — a lot of beds are vacant," Martens said. "There were a ton of fish floating today. We call them "floaters" because they just sit up there just prior to spawning. I saw some areas where every other dock had a 5 pounder on it."
That can prove to be the ultimate frustration for anglers, because those fish can be impossible to catch. The best chance is that tomorrow, those fish will have moved up shallow to spawn.
"There's a possibility that some of them will lock on," Martens said. "The key is the water temperature. That warmer water has had many of the beds, but they have really been picked over. I'm hoping the colder areas of the lake have been pressured less and as they warm over the next few days, the fish that move up should be easier to catch."
James Niggemeyer is one Elite angler that can't wait to get out on the water for the third day of competition. After posting 24 pounds, 12 ounces through Day Two, Niggemeyer sits in 37th place, just over 3 pounds out of the top-12 cut.
"The bite is dwindling but there are a lot of fish that want to move up," Niggemeyer said. "Right now they are real spooky, real skittish. With the warming weather, we could pull out there tomorrow and they could be all locked on or it could happen as the day goes on."
Weather seems to be the primary factor on the spawning cycle. With cold nights before the first two days of fishing, some bass have been moving up later in the afternoon, but another major wave is still to come. Most of the anglers hope that move will occur over the next two days, as forecasts put lows around 60 degrees and highs pushing 90.
Greg Hackney was initially surprised at how much the northern bass of Smith Mountain Lake were affected by the cold front that moved in after practice.
"I think the move up didn't happen sooner today because we had such a cold night last night," Hackney said. "I really think there will be some fish there in the morning because of the warming night Friday night. After that, it will only get better as the day goes on. Even today, the water warmed up from 57 to 67 degrees."
There is at least one Elite angler that doesn't agree with the other anglers' predictions about a wave of bass close to moving up. Bobby Lane, who has spent most of the week sight fishing, finished Day Two in 22nd place with 26 pounds, 13 ounces, but doesn't expect the sight fishing to hold up over the next two days.
"I saw some new ones trying to move up today," Lane said. "But I don't expect to see a big wave of fish move up. I'm going to try to cover water and fish a little differently to catch some of those bigger ones."